Top 3 things retailers need to know about going into 2022

December 06, 2021

Retailers have suffered severe repercussions for the past two years due to lockdowns and COVID restrictions. According to Delloite's Retail Trends report, "Footfall at the end of May 2021 remained down on 2019 levels. While it is increasing, online sales are proving remarkably robust."

This evidences the shift in retail buying strategy to primarily digital and the new customer expectations to the role of physical stores. Of course, online shopping is not fading any time soon, however, the consumer’s desire to return to physical retail is at all times high. When stores in the United Kingdom reopened in April 2021, sales rose 9.2 % month-over-month, with a 218 % jump in foot traffic in the first week after reopening. Research by Publicis Sapient indicates that stores will still be relevant in the next 15 years and will be the best place for consumers to experience a brand. Here are some of our recommendations on maintaining sales level through efficient in-store customer journeys.

1. Store Experiences that integrate the best of Online and Offline are critical to success.

According to Publicis Sapient research, 55% of consumers indicated they sometimes go to a physical store to check out an item before purchasing it online. Therefore, store experiences need to be digital and data-driven.

In other words, the experience expected is similar to the one online, where the buying journey is frictionless without any long queues or unattentive staff. Instead, customers prefer the see it, like it, buy it method.

Retailers can benefit from this change by:

  • Highlighting their average transaction times
  • Optimizing queue lengths
  • Tailoring their in-store experience to fit their most engaged demographic

Following Amazon's steps, Tesco introduced their first checkout-free store in Holborn, where customers can buy products without scanning items or going to a till. In the fashion space, Zara, UNIQLO, and Nike have been using self-service technology for several years to create a smoother buying process for shoppers.

2. Retailers should consider creating more innovative services with AI.

Retailers can now build on their in-store data and use it to make more seamless and sophisticated AI-enabled services. In addition, customers will expect highly personalized in-store journeys from retailers, so recommendation engines or staff adaptation to fit customer needs is critical.

By seamlessly integrating sales data with store activity, retailers can understand their physical footprint, brand and product engagement. Aura Vision technology, for example, uses existing CCTV footage to turn the store into actionable data points anonymously using AI. The tool allows retailers to A/B test their marketing just like online and identify the most impactful promotions, pop-ups, refits and product launches, increasing departmental-level conversion.

3. Creating immersive experiences per location increases brand engagement and loyalty.

There are many ways a shopper can engage with a brand, and each avenue provides an opportunity to create personalized experiences. Retailers must break down data silos within their organizations to gain a clearer view and better understanding of their customer's preferences.

Aura Vision provides a granular level of understanding to different levels in the organization. For example, it allows store managers to understand their exact dwell times during specific periods which can't be measured just from the footfall counters. It also allows regional managers to conduct comparative performance analysis between departments & stores. For strategy teams, Aura Vision allows them to A/B test and understand their in-store performance by location & department, demographic & product and identify areas of improvement.

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